New Details: US Preparing to Hit Iran With New Sanctions Next Week

The Obama administration is preparing to levy new sanctions on Iran next week, three U.S. officials tell ABC News.

The new measures are in response to the latest report by the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, which found that Iran has been developing the technology needed to produce nuclear weapons.

The officials say the new steps by the State Department and Treasury Department would close gaps in existing authorities that will further restrict Iran’s energy and financial sectors, as well as add more entities to sanctions lists.

Specifically, officials say, the new sanctions are meant to target efforts by Iran to get around existing sanctions that have already made it harder for its energy and financial sectors to operate.

Sanctions on Iran’s Central Bank and bans on Iran’s oil and gas sector, measures that could cripple Iran’s economy but could lead to a spike in oil prices, will not be included in this latest round, according to one official.

Last week, a report by the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency sounded the alarm about “serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program.”

The report detailed “credible” evidence that Iran has been covertly developing a nuclear weapon design and testing components. It said Iran has built computer models to study the explosion of a nuclear bomb and is working to develop detonation devices. The report said Tehran has also built a containment vessel in which it can conduct explosive experiments and is studying how to mount a nuclear warhead on its Shahab-3 long-range missiles.

Iranian officials have dismissed the report. On Tuesday, one senior official called it “laughable.”

The IAEA board of directors met in Vienna today to discuss a response to the report. According to the Associated Press, the agency has agreed on a draft text that criticizes Iran but does not call for a further investigation. The AP, which obtained a copy of the text ahead of an expected vote on Friday, said the statement was watered down to secure the support of Russia and China, which have been reluctant to call for more action.

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